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Conserve resources with powerful drives – Energy efficiency with direct drive technology

Marc Hermanns, Baumüller Nürnberg GmbH

Read min.

Energy-efficient recyclate production

Recycling and reusing plastics while reducing the use of resources in the process is a sustainable solution that gained new momentum with the Packaging Act, which came into force in 2019. The law prescribes a 63 percent recycling rate for plastics starting in 2022. Recycling is definitely challenging, but worthwhile. And energy-efficient, precise and dynamic drive solutions can help you recycle plastics.

Why recycle plastics?

Plastics are used all over the world. More than 300 million tons of the material are consumed annually. These figures are expected to potentially triple by 2050. These are the findings of a recent analysis by McKinsey & Company. However, virgin material is becoming increasingly less abundant. An increasing number of plastic processors are rethinking how they operate and now use recycled material. By 2050, the amount of “recyclates” is expected to rise to around 50 percent.

Global warming and the measures introduced by politicians to meet global climate targets are giving the issues of sustainability and the circular economy a considerable boost. The processing of recyclate, the design and use of thin-walled products in order to reduce the use of material, and, for example, the substitution of heavy metallic materials with plastics in the area of e-mobility are being implemented with ever greater consistency. These and other measures should help reduce carbon emissions.

Chassis of an electric vehicle with drive trains

Chassis of an electric vehicle with drive train and high-voltage components

Recycling plastic offers many advantages:

  • Resource-saving, since new plastic is replaced
  • Energy-saving, as the production of recycled material requires less energy than new plastic
  • Environmentally friendly, as plastics do not end up in the sea or in nature
  • CO2-saving, as fewer plastics are burned
  • Recyclate as a high-quality product

The cycle of plastics in detail

Plastic can be processed not only as a material, but also for energy. For this purpose, it is converted into oils or liquid gas. Six steps are required to produce recyclate. The first step is sorting. This is important in order to obtain pure recyclate later on. The plastics are then pressed into bales and transported further.

Circular economy

Circular Economy at its best

This is followed by the mechanical shredding of plastic waste by large waste recycling companies and plastic producers. After shredding, the flakes, the size of which, depending on the screen hole size, is now only a few centimeters, are washed and dried, melted, and formed into plastic pellets. The recyclate obtained is used as an additive in the production of high-quality injection molded or blow molded parts. These can then be used to manufacture new products.

Energy-efficient drive solutions

Each individual step in the production of recyclate requires efficient drive solutions that are compact, space-saving, and powerful. To meet this requirement, Baumüller offers energy-saving concepts, such as high-torque motors.

Due to their high torques even at low rotation speeds, torque motors are ideally suited for shredding plants – the third work step. They are also robust, space-saving and energy-efficient.

Drive system for recyclate production

The drive system for shredding plants consists of intelligent drive components

Best practice at WEIMA Maschinenbau GmbH

“In Baumüller, we have found a partner who supplies all that we need from a single source. We looked for drives in which we can operate within a large speed range. “We run in a range of 0 to 160 rotor revolutions,” reports Stefan Roth, design manager at WEIMA Maschinenbau GmbH. Thanks to the perfect interaction of controller, converter and motor, we were able to reduce the energy consumption of the shredding plant by 30 percent.

Shredding plant

Thanks to the perfect interaction of converter and motor, the rotor is able to set exact cuts – for optimum results

Highly dynamic and powerful

During the shredding process, the drives need to withstand enormous load peaks. The use of high-torque technology both reduces energy costs for the user and increases the power density of the system compared to machines with asynchronous technology. Dispensing with hydraulics brings numerous advantages: There are fewer wearing parts and the energy efficiency is significantly higher. Since no oil is used, the system is also much more environmentally friendly.

Baumüller offers a powerful drive system consisting of dynamic and energy-saving high-torque motors, converters, and control technology. Baumüller Dravinja manufactures control cabinets to customer specifications. The individual design of the drive system ensures that the selection of drive system components is precisely tailored to the customer’s needs. The Baumüller software solution, consisting of load sharing, i.e. load distribution of motors, the HMI template for simple and fast diagnostics, and a standardized software interface to higher-level process controls, is the ideal plug-and-play solution.

In the control, the system is monitored for blockages. The speed can be increased up to the maximum speed depending on the material and the torque requirement. If a blockage is detected, the drives are reversed briefly. Changing the rotation direction of the shafts frees up the blocked parts again, allowing the shredding process to continue without subjecting the shredder shaft to unnecessary stresses. The shredder can also be stopped immediately if necessary.


The high energy efficiency and low life cycle costs of Baumüller torque drives save shredding machine operators precious money. In contrast to systems with asynchronous motors, this system eliminates the need for numerous wearing parts, such as couplings, belts, and flywheels, which thereby increases the availability of the plant. The load balancing and the dynamic start/stop behavior with very short response times extend the service life of the shredder shaft.

The complete shredder system from Baumüller can be fully integrated into the plastics recycling process. It relies on energy-efficient drive components that are powerful, compact, and high-torque. This way, plastic can be reused in a resource-saving and sustainable manner.

Do you have any questions?

Marc Hermanns
Branch manager – Forming technology / Recycling
Baumüller Nürnberg GmbH

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